Pastor Carolyn’s Sermon for April 19, 2015

Sermon Easter 3 Tema Parish    I Peter 5:1-5, John 21:15-19

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts be
acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Creator and our risen
Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, I am very, very happy, and honored to
be with you today.  I bring you greetings from Nebraska.  I especially
bring greetings from our Nebraska Synod and our bishop, Brian Maas.
Bishop Maas was here at Tema parish for the dedication of your bell
tower and that is the day he invited Pastor John to come to Nebraska.

And that is how I came to be here. I am so very grateful for the love
I feel from all of you.  You have welcomed me the way you welcome
Jesus himself and I am very grateful and humbled by your gracious
hospitality.

I bring greetings from over 250 parishes in Nebraska, but especially
from your sister parish, my parish, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.  We
are very excited to welcome Pastor John to St. Mark’s in a few days.
It is our prayer that we all become closer to God as we become closer
to each other.

I heard that many of you have not seen a woman pastor before.
Therefore, I also want to bring greetings from everyone in the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and especially, our presiding
bishop, Elizabeth Eaton.  In our ELCA, many of the pastors are women
and our presiding bishop is a woman.

Each of our synods is in partnership with another diocese or synod
around the world.  We greatly value our partnerships with all of the
churches as we learn from each other and walk together in our
relationship with Jesus Christ.

The scriptures for today’s sermon are the reading from First Peter,
chapter 5, and the reading from the gospel of John, chapter 21.  Today
we learn from St. Peter that Jesus helps us and he cares about how we
live our lives each and every day.

In today’s reading from first Peter, Peter is writing to the leaders
of the churches.  The apostles were the first bishops, then came other
church leaders, both bishops and elders.

Jesus is talking to Peter in our gospel lesson.  Peter was talking to
the first church bishops and elders. But, I believe that these words
were also meant for us.

The story from the Gospel of John is a story that tells what happened
after the resurrection.  It is good to have some background
information.  It is good to know what was going on there before we get
to our story today.

It is early Monday morning a week or two after the resurrection.  It
is important to know it was a Monday, a regular work day. The
disciples have gone fishing.  Many of them were fishermen and they
needed to work and they needed to eat, so they took the fishing boat
out over night because that was the best time to fish.

Sometimes we don’t have a good day at work or school.  We don’t always
get all the work done that we wish to do.  Sometimes the nights don’t
go well at home.  Some times, things happen that we don’t like.

That night, the disciples didn’t have a good night fishing.  They
didn’t catch anything at all.  They saw a man on the beach, but they
didn’t recognize it was Jesus.  Jesus told them to cast the net on the
right side of he boat.

They did what he said, even though it didn’t make sense to them.
After all, he was a carpenter. They were the fishermen.  But they did
what he said.

It is a good idea to do what Jesus says even when it doesn’t make any
sense to you.  This time it was a very good idea.  Jesus showed them
he cares about regular days like Mondays, not just Sundays.

He cares about our work and school.  He cares how we behave all week
and wants to help us be successful. Jesus helped the disciples that
day.  They caught so many fish, they almost broke their nets.  That’s
when Peter recognizes it is the Lord.

The disciples sat down for breakfast with Jesus.  After breakfast,
they sat and talked with Jesus, and that is where our story comes in,
and there is more good news from Jesus.

You remember Peter, of course.  You know that Peter was the one who
denied Jesus three times the night Jesus was betrayed.

Jesus had predicted that Peter would deny him 3 times before the
rooster crowed in the morning.  Peter said then, “Oh no, Lord, I will
never deny you.  I will follow you to death.”  But he did deny him,
didn’t he?  That had to be weighing on his conscience, making him feel
bad.

We know how that feels, when we are ashamed of denying that we know
Jesus. But this story is very good news for us.  Jesus gave Peter a
chance to make it up to him.  He forgave him and gave him the chance
to say, “I love you, Jesus,” three times to make up for denying him 3
times.

Jesus forgives us and gives us the chance to try again tomorrow.  Then
he helps us by teaching us.  He tells us what we need to do, to make
things go better every day of our lives.

Jesus gives Peter some instructions. Jesus talks to Peter about how to
take care of the people. He says feed my lambs and tend my sheep.  He
tells Peter to take care of the flock, to feed them and care for them,
as if they were his own little lambs, his own babies.

Peter remembered what Jesus said.  He passed the message down in his
letter to the bishops and elders of the early church, and they have
passed the message on down to us.  And we will pass it down to our
children and our grandchildren.

Peter tells us that Jesus cares how we live our lives every day.  He
doesn’t just care about how we act at worship on Sunday.  Jesus cares
how we behave in our regular life.  He cares how we treat each other
on Mondays, and every other day of the week.
Jesus wants us to to take care of each other.

If we are leaders in the church, we do not act like we are better than
others.  We do not try to say we know best.  We listen to everyone and
work together on the best ideas that everyone agrees on.  We recognize
that God has given gifts to each of us.

We are especially to watch out for the little lambs, the ones who are
the youngest, or the weakest.  We care for them and teach them gently,
by being an example to them.  We show them how Jesus wants them to
live, by living the way Jesus wants us to live.

When it is our turn to lead and we are called to do something, Peter
tells us to agree willingly, because that is what the Lord wants us to
do.  We are not to complain or say we are too tired or too busy.  We
are to cheerfully do what Jesus tells us to do.

That is the good news for today.  Jesus cares about how we live every
day of our lives.  He cares so much that he teaches us by giving us
leaders like Peter, and the bishops and elders. He has given us many
people to be an example to us, to show us how to live.

And Jesus helps us be examples for our children and grandchildren.  We
know this is true because we have seen the examples of the saints, the
elders and church leaders who have gone before us.

And when we have a not so good day, and we forget Jesus, or we act
like we don’t know Jesus, he doesn’t desert us.  Jesus forgives us.
He comes back and helps us and gives us a new chance every day.

We know this is true because Jesus came to live with us, die for our
sins, and rise from the tomb to destroy death for us.  And when Jesus,
the great shepherd, appears, we will win the crown of glory that never
fades away.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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